GoodEnough for Me is an on-going analysis of the rookie pitchers during the 2007 baseball season. The series was inspired by, and serves as companion piece to, The Extrapolater’s Smells Like Pujols series, which is taking a look at some of the top rookie position players. You can find Smells Like Pujols HERE.
The rookie starters have merely one start under their belts this season, and the relievers have no more than 3 appearances so far. Needless to say, we have a severely limited amount of information from which to grift analysis. That said, let’s look at some of the most and least impressive performers thus far. (For the complete stats, go to the “GoodEnough” page).
Let’s look at the starters and relievers separately. (For the record, all, these statistics are updated as of Saturday afternoon, so for all you Kei Igawa and Zach Segovia fans out there, wondering where your boy is, don’t worry, we’ll cover him next week.)
The big name among rookie starters is, of course, Japanese phenom Daisuke Matsuzaka. Daisuke was brutal in 7 innings against an interesting sort of offense in the Royals. He allowed merely one baserunner per inning, which helped him to minimize the damage from the only home run he allowed. He walked only one, and struck out 10. Matsuzaka was, unsurprisingly, the best of the rookie starters in his debut.
Jason Hirsh for the Colorado Rockies was nearly as impressive, though. Whether through luck or skill, I don’t know, but Hirsh was even better than Daisuke in keeping the opponent off the bases, walking none, and only allowing 6 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Hirsh struck out 8 batters, and, like Daisuke, allowed only a single solo shot.
Third place on our list is, perhaps the most intriguing rook, is Micah Owings of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This 6’5″ 24-year-old pitched 5 innings, and struck out 6, which is excellent. However, he also walked 3, and generally, success does not follow the pitcher who walks more than 4 runners per 9 innings pitched. Despite being a bit happy with the free passes, Owings allowed only a single base hit. This is almost certainly the result of good fielding and luck, but on some extra investigation, we learn that Owings might be something of a sinker pitcher. Against right-handed batters, Owings generated 4 groundouts for every fly. Work like that tends to help a pitcher pretty significantly. He wasn’t nearly so impressive in the the groundball department, and it’ll be interesting to see if the walks start to get the better of Owings, or if he can continue generating plenty of work for his infielders to keep looking good.
The only starter to begin his season with a less than desirable product is Matt Chico, who probably isn’t even feeling the heat of shoddy work since, well, the man plays for the Washington Nationals. Given the rest of that rotation, it’s hard to say Chico’s 4 IP and 3 homeruns allowed are subpar. On the positive side of things, Chico struck batters out at a pretty good clip (3 K’s in 4IP) and walked no one. Without looking it up, I’m guessing Chico has some extreme flyball tendencies, and while not even the Nats will keep him around if he keeps serving taters up almost every inning, his numbers to have a chance to turn around.
FROM THE BULLPEN
This covers nearly 90% of the rookie pitchers to appear so far this season. The greatest number of innings pitched by any of these guys is 7 2/3 by Nick Masset of the Chicago White Sox, which is pretty insane for the week of work in a major leaguer reliever’s career. But, then again, Ozzie Gullen is out of his mind, and Masset has done…okay. That is, he’s gotten pretty lucky. He hardly strikes anyone out (4.7 K/9), and he’s a flyball pitcher who has only allowed one longball, which is pretty handy given that right-handers are reaching safely against him at a .400 clip with .611 slugging. That’s not how we win ball games, gentlemen.
There’s a trio of gentlemen near the top of the list who have such similar stats I’m concerned I entered them incorrectly on Saturday. Regular Joes (Smith and Bisenius) of the Mets and Phillies, along with Kansas City counterpart, Ryan Braun, have all allowed 1 walk and have struck out 2. Braun’s work only an inning, while the Joes have each worked 1 1/3. They score high on the list so far despite their ugly, ugly WHIP because they’ve missed bats at a very high rate. The Joes are blowing pitches past batters at the rate of 13.5 per 9IP, while Braun is killing people with 18Ks per nine. Of course, none of these fellow have come close to pitching those nine innings, so, really, we don’t know anything about any of them quite yet.
Guy most likely to drop from the top half of the list? I could be wrong, but I’m guessing Chris Sampson. He’s a flyball pitcher in the tiny Minute Maid Park, and he doesn’t strike any out at a particularly prodigious rate. Oh, plus, he’s a rookie who turns 29 in a month. That’s a red flag right there, too, and I think age can count as a stat. Unless you’re Roger Clemens, or a knuckleballer.
We’ll take a look at the changes in the leaderboard, and we’ll start profiling the starters in more detail.